Monday was a tough news day. The world learned of the horrific attack on music festival goers in Las Vegas that morning, and by that afternoon the initial (false) reports of Tom Petty‘s death were coming across the wires.
It kinda makes me feel awful saying this, but I feel like the constant coverage those types of mass shooting events get has desensitized me to it a bit. I mean I certainly feel terrible when I read news about something like that, but it’s not shocking anymore. But when I found out Tom Petty had died, I actually sat down for a few minutes and felt sad about it – much like I did earlier this year when Chris Cornell passed away.
Now those initial reports of Petty’s death were false, but later that night the world did get official confirmation that Petty had indeed passed on.
Full statement: pic.twitter.com/FGCVI5yIaa
— Tom Petty (@tompetty) October 3, 2017
It was surreal. He’d just wrapped up a successful tour, one that brought him to Toronto. I wasn’t at that show (though I would have loved to be), but my friend and co-worker Matt Diamond was. Hearing the stories he told of the experience just made me wish I’d been there even more. The crowd singing along with every word, hit after hit, nobody knowing this would be the last chance they’d have to see him play.
I don’t have to tell you what Tom Petty means to folks. You probably feel it too. I mean, Petty never really fit the bill of top-tier sex symbol rock star. He wasn’t making headlines for his outrageous behaviour or spending years at the top of the charts… But he didn’t need any of that. Petty had a real ear for a catchy tune and an uncanny ability to write songs and tell stories that so many of us could relate to. Larger-than-life rock star or not, Tom Petty spent his life writing songs that became the soundtrack to our lives – whether we knew it or not. I can’t tell you how many times a Tom Petty song has come on the radio and I’ve caught myself singing along with the words without even realizing it. He created so many of those songs that we just… know, you know?
I’ve been seeing it throughout the day here at the corner of King & George. I’m not sure which one of our awesome staff set this up, but people have been stopping to look at it all day. In fact, a couple (probably) in their 50’s just came by, stopped, and hugged while looking at it.
— Ken Elrick II (@DrPatchbeard) October 8, 2017
That widespread love for the man and his music was on full display yesterday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, home of the Florida Gators. At the end of the 3rd quarter of the Gators’ game against the LSU Tigers, the jumbotron showed a little tribute to Petty, who was born right there in Gainesville and worked for a short time on the grounds crew for the University of Florida before he hit rock stardom. Before you knew it, the 90,000 fans in attendance were singing along with every word. Check it out:
— Florida Gators (@FloridaGators) October 7, 2017
Thanks for the tunes and memories, Tom.